Custom Printing on Styrene

Styrene is one of the most commonly used plastics in the world and can be found in consumer packaging, foams, take-out trays, bottles, and retail print. 

Retailers prefer printing on styrene sheets because it’s incredibly easy to work with, inexpensive, durable, and safe for retail; making it the preferred substrate for header signs, aisle violators, shelf strips, hanging signs, point of purchase display panels, posters, trans light backlit signs, or shelf-talkers.

What is Styrene?

Polystyrene (PS) is a synthetic polymer thermoplastic referred to as ‘styrene’, it can be molded or sheeted making it versatile, easy to machine, and inexpensive to use.  

When destined for print applications, additives like 5-10% rubber or butadiene copolymer are included in the styrene manufacturing process to increase its impact resistance and toughness.  Without the additive, styrene is quite brittle.  This specially formulated styrene is called HIPS (high impact polystyrene) and is a sign-makers choice favorite substrate material. 

Printing on Polystyrene

NGS Printing has been printing on plastics for over 60 years and exclusively offers UV screen printing and UV digital inkjet printing.  UV inks are preferred because they are cured instantly upon being exposed to UV light, emit no harmful VOC emissions, are durable, and adhere to a range of substrates.  At NGS, we can print 4 color processes, spot colors, clear coat finishes, and even special effects like glitter onto a range of paper and plastic materials, but in particular, polystyrene, using UV inks.   

Point of purchase display manufacturers and retailers across the nation choose NGS Printing because we’re specialized and good at what we do.  Our mission is to exceed our customer’s expectations by being reliable, high quality, and easy on your budget.  

UV Digital Printing on Polystyrene

Digital inkjet printing is the process of spraying picoliter-sized droplets of ink in perfect unison and placement onto a substrate material.  Billions of droplets of cyan, magenta, yellow and black build up an image and when seen from a distance create amazing imagery.  NGS Printing is home to some of the most advanced UV digital printing presses designed specifically for good ink adhesion to polystyrene material, amazing production speeds and stunningly beautiful process color output.  Using vendors that specialize in particular markets or materials ensures your dealing with experts of their craft.  While HIPS is an easy material to work with, many printers have ink formulations for printing on paper or certain plastics but not HIPS.  This may result in poor ink adhesion and failure in the field.  

Backlit graphics (translites) require even more experience and expertise in both prepress and digital printing because the graphics look very different on plastic than when backlit.  With styrene being the preferred material source for backlit graphics, it’s imperative to find vendors who have a background in working with translucent styrene.   

UV Screen Printing on Polystyrene

The process of screen printing is very different from digital printing and thus carries many different advantages.  Simply put, screen printing uses screens made of tight mesh that are blocked out in certain areas only letting ink pass through in select areas.  Each color requires its own screen.  

Spot color printing is among the biggest advantages of screen printing.  At NGS Printing, we custom mix spot colors to match any brand-specific PMS color.  This specific process is ideal because it’s not a composition of CMYK, but a true mixture that looks the same from a distance or up close.  Brand colors look great on polystyrene and the ink is received well keeping production speeds fast and thus costs low.

Why Should You Use Styrene Sheets?

Retail print buyers choose high-impact polystyrene because it is a well-rounded easy material to work with.  It has good ink adhesion, UV printing looks great on it, it’s easy to cut, inexpensive to acquire, it is safe and durable in the field, rigid enough to self-stand, and recyclable.  

High Impact Polystyrene for print is generally white but is available in colors for large production runs.  There are numerous advantages making it a favorite in the printing industry but one of the main and commonly used across retail due to its durability, rigidity, and overall cost.  

Attributes of High-Impact Polystyrene:

  • Impact resistance – HIPS is extremely durable and has a tendency to bend and flex before breaking making it a great option for use within the general public in retail environments.
  • Machinability – HIPS can be die-cut, router cut, drilled, heat bent, machined, fabricated, and bonded.  Ease in manufacturing increases output, and reduces the overall costs.
  • Rigidity – is one of few materials that is cost-effective, printable, and rigid without being a sandwich board type (cardboard, coroplast, foamboard) where they have ugly exposed sides or simply less durable.  Styrene is rigid and self-standing at thicknesses as thin as 0.020 mil but it depends on the final cut size. 
  • Printable – It is excellent for sheet-fed screen printing, digital inkjet printing, and litho offset.  The base white color doesn’t have a strong yellow hue, resulting in the colors looking truer than many alternative options.
  • Recyclable – HIPS is 100% recyclable under recycle code #6.  In fact, NGS Printing recycles all of its offcuts and scrap to a local vendor.
  • Colors – Printable HIPS is generally stocked in white or translucent white, but it can be procured in custom colors for large production runs. 
  • Translucent – HIPS is available in different levels of opacity from Opaque, Standard, or Translucent.  Backlit signage is typically printed on acrylic or translucent HIPS.  Light passing through the white styrene brings out all the vibrant colors of a digitally printed graphic. 
  • Low cost – HIPS is very cost-effective when compared to other similar materials. 
  • Dimensional stability – Many plastics and papers are sensitive to humidity, heat, and UV which can cause them to warp, shrink, saturate, bend or become brittle.  HIPS resists the elements and has good dimensional stability.

Make NGS Printing your preferred vendor for your next styrene sign project. Choosing NGS means you will be working with a vendor that has over 60 years of experience paired with state-of-the-art equipment that ensures you’ll be receiving industry-leading quality graphics.  

Join the hundreds of display companies, retailers, or brands that use NGS Printing as their chosen supplier of styrene signs!

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